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Mole-rat in the garden: the problem is the solution?  RSS feed

 
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Semi-wild 1/3 acre garden that I'm trying to cultivate since last year. Heavy clay soil. Old fruit-bearing trees, cover crops, some vegetables.

Spalax, Rodent family, pure vegetarian - unlike Mole, Talpidae family, pure carnivorous creature.
Sure it's the Spalax due to several neighbours' evidence who hunted him after he stole their veggies.

Already made a dozen hills in my garden and is progressing. Guess there's a colony of them and a subterranean network. The neighbours use tin-rattles to deter the creatures so I fancy all local mole-rats are ours now
Not that I have plenty of valuable roots and tubers growing, not to mention a 20-foot row of garlic and Jerusalem artichokes they took for their groundwork exertions last year.
Seem to make no visible harm to the trees. The mole-hills in cover crops look pretty unsightly, that's true.

Before trying to expel or distract the hated animals from the garden, are mole-rats really so harmful and mightn't they be our Nature's allies, from a broader and longer-term perspective?
The obvious thing is that they gnaw and loosen compacted layers of soil underneath, making enormous amount of groundwork. That could be somehow beneficial for water penetration and holding ability of the land.
As for root and tuber vegetables, it's not a problem to grow them in beds with bottom layer of woodchips or branches, where are inaccessible for Spalacidae.

Anybody has the ideas?
1) Mole-rats in the garden: 2B or not 2B?
2) If 2B, how to control their activities? Elderberry (Sambucus) underbrush seems to have no effect on them.

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I lost a couple $100 dollars worth of plant kingdom to voles in South West Oregon two years ago.  I have 50'x 35' area irrigated and fertilized.  It probably really stands out as attractive to the endemic herbivores.  I also have a low electric wire excluding skunks and raccoons etc. from this area and adjacent chicken run.  So with my low wire my cat and dog also are excluded and not leaving predatory sign (smells mostly) around this area.

I tried a castor based sprinkle product that was suppose to repel but not poison but it was ineffective last spring.  I also don't fully trust it will not end up in wildlife especially birds.

Last fall I lined the problem  area with daffodils.  It looks great but the results won't be understood by me for awhile yet. By mid-summer I should know if this helped. I can only hope I will quit losing persimmon, paw paw, elderberry, raspberry, hardy kiwi.

 
Radimir Shevchenko
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Jim Wineteer, thank you for your reply.
I'm not sure if daffodils aren't included in his diet too, like garlic.
In fact, I didn't expect him before mid-summer, but this year he appeared earlier due to warm winter and early drought. I got concerned with the speed and directness he makes his way through the garden to the sunny edge where the vegetables are planted. The hills are 2-3 feet in diameter and the holes are 5-6 inches wide, this creature is a bit bigger than a vole. Poured water from the hose into the hole, added some diluted essence oils and instant coffee. Hope it reverts him back, or I have to evacuate my winter garlic ))
 
Radimir Shevchenko
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The mole-hills paraded through my veggies bed to neighbors' garden, garlic staying intact...
Yesterday I could finally eye-witness the animal... It came out of an open hole for a couple of seconds, just to be identified as... a shrew.
Now I question: do shrews make tunnels and hills? or they may act in co-operation with mole-rats?
 
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